This article is about the town of Lazio. For other uses, see Bolsena (disambiguation).
Comune di Bolsena

View of the city with the lake.

Coat of arms

Location of Bolsena in Italy

Coordinates: 42°38′41″N 11°59′09″E / 42.64472°N 11.98583°E / 42.64472; 11.98583
Country Italy
Region Lazio
Province / Metropolitan city Viterbo (VT)
  Mayor Paolo Equitani
  Total 63.94 km2 (24.69 sq mi)
Elevation 350 m (1,150 ft)
Population (31 December 2010[1])
  Total 4,235
  Density 66/km2 (170/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Bolsenesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 01023
Dialing code 0761
Patron saint St. Christine Martyr
Saint day July 24
Website Official website

Bolsena is a town and comune of Italy, in the province of Viterbo in northern Lazio on the eastern shore of Lake Bolsena. It is 10 km (6 mi) north-north west of Montefiascone and 36 km (22 mi) north-west of Viterbo. The ancient Via Cassia, today's highway SR143, follows the lake shore for some distance, passing through Bolsena.


The Castle of Bolsena

While it is fairly certain that the city is the successor to the ancient Roman town of Volsinii (sometimes termed Volsinii Novi New Volsinii to distinguish it from the Etruscan city), scholarly opinion is sharply divided as to whether Volsinii was the same as the ancient Etruscan city of Velzna or Velsuna (sometimes termed Volsinii Veteres Old Volsinii), the other candidate being Orvieto, 20 km (12 mi) NE. George Dennis pointed out that the town of Bolsena has no Etruscan characteristics; for example, Etruscan cities were built on defensible crags, which the hill on which the castle is situated is not. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder said[2] that a bolt from Mars fell on Bolsena, "the richest town in Tuscany" and that the city was entirely burned up by this bolt. The population moved to another site, which Dennis thought was Bolsena. The new city was named after the old, hence Roman Bolsena has an Etruscan name. Dennis suggests a number of crags in the area including Orvieto but does not favor Orvieto on the grounds that it is too far away.[3]

Etruscan tombs

A number of Etruscan tombs have been found in the vicinity of Bolsena. Funerary objects from these tombs are now located in Italy and abroad, including a fine collection in the British Museum.[4]


Bolsena is known for a miracle said to have occurred in the Basilica of Santa Cristina in 1263, when a Bohemian priest, in doubt about the doctrine of Transubstantiation, reported bleeding from the host he had consecrated at Mass. The Orvieto Cathedral was eventually built to commemorate the miracle and house the Corporal of Bolsena. A famed fresco by Raphael and his school in the Vatican Stanze depicts the event.

US Navy base

The United States Navy established a naval air station on 21 February 1918 to operate seaplanes during World War I. The base closed shortly after the First Armistice at Compiègne.[5]

See also


  1. Data from Istat
  2. Pliny the Elder, Natural History, II,18
  3. Dennis, George (1878). The cities and cemeteries of Etruria. 2 (revised ed.). London: J. Murray. p. 23.
  4. British Museum Collection
  5. Van Wyen, Adrian O. (1969). Naval Aviation in World War I. Washington, D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations. p. 60.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bolsena.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bolsena.
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